Seen&Heard: Goodman, pensions and secret discounts

Altobridge, backed by Intel and the World Bank, bought out of receivership by iDirect

Goodman increases stake in Blackrock Clinic: Larry Goodman has taken control of a further 8 per cent stake in Dublin's Blackrock Clinic, making him its biggest shareholder, according to the Sunday Times. The increased shareholding gives Goodman an edge in a growing battle for control of the Clinic.

The paper reports that Goodman's family trust, which already owns nearly 29 per cent of Blackrock, has effectively acquired the stake owned by John Flynn by buying the debts of a Flynn company from Nama. Last week, according to the paper, the Goodman trust appointed a receiver over the Blackrock shares held by Flynn's company Benray.

A number of stakes in the private hospital have been on the market as part of loan disposals by Nama and IBRC, the former Anglo Irish Bank. Several of these loans relate to borrowing by some shareholders from Anglo in 2006 to fund a buyout of shares in the clinic from Bupa.

Pension deal for ESB's O'Hara: The ESB agreed a deal that linked the pension of its former chief executive Ken O'Hara directly to the increasing wage levels of his successor. The Sunday Business Post reports that the semi-State has declined to comment or to say whether similar arrangements are in place for other top managers in the firm.


Private sector workers worse off than public sector: Public sector workers are, on average, €8 an hour better off than their private sector colleagues, even after various pay cuts since 2008, according to analysis of Central Statistics Office (CSO) data by the Sunday Independent. It claims the figures show State employees earn on average €28.23 an hour while private sector workers earn €20.21, a 39 per cent difference.

Altobridge bought out of receivership: Irish tech firm Altobridge, backed by Intel and the World Bank, has been bought out of receivership by iDirect, an international satellite communications firm. iDirect is acquiring the majority of Altobridge's intellectual property (IP) and assets, according to the Sunday Business Post. However, it will not be rehiring the 40 Irish staff who lost their jobs when Altobridge went into receivership in late May.

Jim Luby was appointed receiver by Intel and IFC, the venture capital arm of the World Bank, to protect their €20 million investment in the Irish firm. iDirect is ultimately owned by ST Engineering, a multibillion Asian defence and engineering conglomerate, according to the paper.

Secret mortgage discounts: Banks are offering secret discounts of up to 0.25 per cent on published mortgage rates to prized customers, according to the Sunday Times. This would save a borrower more than €20,000 in interest on a €400,000 mortgage over 30 years. While lenders have regularly given discounts to wealthy clients, the practice of preferential pricing is spreading across the mainstream mortgage business, the paper reports.